Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Do I need a double pushchair for a toddler and a newborn?

When we found on that baby #2 was on the way, it didn't take us long to start thinking about what new baby equipment we could reuse, and what new things we might need to buy. It was exactly the same as when I was pregnant with Bobble, our first initial searches online were about pushchairs.

As I said in my Joolz Day review, it's such an important purchase to get right. Transporting your children around is something you have to do day in and day out. If you buy a pushchair that is badly made and not fit for purpose, every trip out with your baby will be spoilt. I don't think I'm being dramatic here. Or maybe it's just me. I equate it to putting on some clothes that don't fit quite right, or are a bit itchy, or that you constantly have to readjust. They bug you all day, and spoil your mood.

Do I need a double pushchair for a toddler and a newborn?

I don't know how many times I typed this phrase into Google. Or how many different pages of results I read. It's not a new dilemma by any means. But if you have an age gap of less than 3 years, I think it's something that everyone who is expecting their second child ponders. We went right the way around the houses for a while, thinking about this. We would have a gap of 2 years and 4 months between our boys. I'm going to share our thinking, and also our opinions on the different options that are out there. Spoiler alert - we bought a Bugaboo Donkey. A full review of this pushchair will be coming up soon!


What's the age gap?

As I said, there would be 2 years and 4 months between our boys. In many ways this made the decision harder. If there's less than 2 years between your children, I personally think you'd be a bit mad to not buy a double pushchair. So if you have a gap of 2-3 years, how do you decide whether you're going to need one or not? So here's what I think it boils down to...

Your toddler

    1. How far can your toddler walk before they get tired?   

    If you've got the type of child that is going to frequently ask to be carried, chances are you are going to need a seat for them in a pushchair.

    2. How fast can your toddler walk? 

    So they like to walk everywhere? Excellent. Consider what will happen when you're running late (unless you're Super Mum, this will be a common occurrence when you have two children!) A buggy board might be a good solution, so they can hop on for a speedier ride.

    3. Does your toddler still nap in the day?  

    On a long day out, if they don't have somewhere to sleep, are you going to end up with a grouchy toddler if there's nowhere for them to rest or sleep?

    4. How trustworthy is your toddler - do they run off frequently or are they fiercely independent?

    Being able to 'contain' your toddler is often cited as being important to mothers of those spirited and independent children. If you don't trust them to stay safe near roads, or to not jump off a buggy board mid flight, you'll need a place to keep them strapped in and safe.  

    Your lifestyle

    1. How often do you use your current pushchair?

    If you're still using it on a daily basis, will it be fair or practical to suddenly require that your toddler walks or rides on a buggy board from now on? If you only use it occasionally, think about those occasions, and whether you can just get away with a walking toddler or a buggy board.  

    2. Do you mostly walk, or travel by car or public transport?

    If you mostly walk, you need to imagine doing all of those outings with a walking toddler or toddler on a buggy board. If you mostly travel by car or public transport, size matters. Double pushchairs, whether they're side by side or in-line are big. They will either take up significantly more space in your car boot or make it trickier to get on the bus or train.  

    3. Have you got a place to store a double pushchair?  

    Again, size matters. Maybe you don't keep your current pushchair in the house and instead choose to keep it in the car boot or a garage - will a double fit in there? If you do keep it in the house, measure up and see if there's space for a double.


    The right choice for you

    I don't think we really justified our choice until about 6 months after Little H was born! Before then, we were about 70/30 on a decision in favour of getting one. But it was only going to be day to day life that proved whether or not we had made the right decision. I know plenty of people that faced a similar decision and have quite happily managed without one. Likewise, I have friends who have ended up going out to buy a double after their second baby has arrived.

    The bottom line for me was that I wanted to make my life as simple as possible. Having two small children to look after was going to be anything but simple, so if another piece of equipment might help, then I would like to have it.

    What are the options for double pushchairs?

    Doubles come in two styles - side by side, and tandem or in-line (one seat in front of the other). The style that you prefer is completely personal. Both have their advantages, which I'll talk about in more detail below. But now is a good point to mention one very important word - COMPROMISE. Double pushchairs are all about compromise. Searching for the perfect one for you is nothing like the search for your single pushchair. There is always a really big compromise. You just have to decide what that compromise will be for you!

    Side by side double pushchairs

    Why you will love them
    • Equality - both children get a great seat from where they can see the world, rather than just the pavement or the seat in front of them.
    • Bonding - your two kids can sit side by side, hold hands, chat to each other and have some quality bonding time!
    • Options - many brands come with options to have a carry cot in one of the seats, so your newborn can truly lay flat from birth.
    • Toddler comfort  - if your toddler still sleeps in the day, they may well need a seat that reclines, this is almost guaranteed with a side by side.

    Why you won't love them
    • Wide load - there's no escaping the fact that this is a wide buggy. It may not be double the width of a standard single, but it is significantly wider.
    • Frame size - these beasts don't fold down that compactly.
    • Tank - take a side by side for a spin around a shop and it will feel like you're driving a tank!

    What's the compromise? 
    The biggest compromise is this - a side by side is not a nippy little pushchair. You will be able to get through most standard doors, but some shops, cafes and forms public transport are going to be a struggle.


    Tandem double pushchairs

    Why you will love them
    • Compact - they are no wider than a standard single pushchair. You will still be able to access all your favourite places without worrying about not fitting through a narrow gap.  
    • Conversion - many in-line doubles can easily convert from single to double. This is much harder to find with side by sides.
    • Balance - second child not there? This pushchair will handle just as well without the weight of the second child.

    Why you won't love them
    • The second seat - often just inches from the pavement, there's not much of a view down there, particularly when your baby is older than 6 months and wants to sit up and look out.
    • Newborn options - very few have the options for a newborn to sleep in a rigid, traditional style carry cot.
    • Sibling bonding - the antithesis of the side by side, your two children can't see each other or communicate.
    • Curb appeal - while side by sides are wide, in-lines are long and can feel heavy and awkward when going up curbs.

    What's the biggest compromise?
    The biggest compromise is this - this pushchair does not offer two equally good seats. One child is stuck with a restricted view.

    Our choice

    In our search for the ideal double buggy, we decided that these things were deal-breakers:
    1. It had to have a proper carry cot for a newborn. A reclined toddler seat with straps was not an option. Neither was a soft, cocoon type carry cot. We wanted something that a baby could sleep in comfortably during the day for long periods of time, and even be used as a carry cot for an overnight sleep, just like the carry cot on our Joolz Day.
    2. The toddler seat had to recline. From 19 months onwards, Bobble would only nap in the pushchair, so there had to be somewhere for him to sleep during day time naps.
    3. It had to fit in our (estate!) car, by having a fairly compact fold.
    4. It had to handle as nicely as our Joolz Day, so we're talking a smooth push, good handling up and down curbs and a good length extending handle.

    Who makes the best double pushchair?

    I'd like to say upfront that I haven't conducted an exhaustive review of the whole double pushchair market. I didn't see all of the models in person, but gleaned a lot of the pros and cons from online reviews. And remember, we were looking for something that could offer everything I've listed above. Your own needs may well be different to mine. I dismissed any kind of umbrella fold style buggy outright - it couldn't offer the newborn carry cot that we wanted, and I'm not a big fan of that type of lightweight pushchair for anything other than holidays.

    Side by side double pushchair brands

    Baby Jogger City
    A carry cot is an optional extra. However, from 6 months your baby has to face outwards as the seats are fixed. I've only heard good things about Baby Joggers. People say that are light weight, very manoeuvrable and have a very compact fold.

    Bugaboo Donkey
    Mega bucks. But a unique and massively convertible design.

    First Wheels City Twin
    The only design out there that comes close to the Donkey. I didn't see one in person, but have read that it's very wide (wider than the Donkey and won't go through a standard door) and very heavy. 

    Mountain Buggy Duet
    We liked the handling and options of being able to have a carry cot, but it didn't seem that comfortable for Bobble. The fabric of the seat and the way it reclined felt like a big down step from the Joolz.

    Out and About Nipper 360
    I didn't try one of these in person, but know a lot of people that rave about them. I didn't like the lack of carry cot, or the very reclined seating position.


    Baby Jogger City Select
    I think this is a great option for twins, but of all the 16 different seating options, there wasn't one which had the carry cot at the top facing me, and the toddler seat facing outwards.

    Babystyle Oyster Max
    I really thought this could be The One. Until I took it for a test drive. It felt heavy and due to the short handle (or my long legs!) I was constantly kicking the carry cot on the bottom. I wasn't too keen about the fact that the carry cot had to face outwards as well. 

    Britax B-Dual
    Like the Babystyle Oyster Max, I really wanted to like this... but I hated it. It weighed an absolute tonne, without any children in it! Beside that, it didn't have a rigid carry cot either. 

    iCandy (Apple to Pear,  Peach Blossom, Pear)
    I had liked iCandy when we were shopping for a single, but one look at the seat size of their doubles and it was obvious Bobble would have to be squeezed in. I think these are best for twins rather than different aged children. 

    Joolz Geo
    Wasn't available when we were shopping, and I've not seen it in any shops since it has been released. 

    Phil and Teds (various)
    None include a solid carry cot for the newborn. To be honest, I was really disappointed by this when we were shopping as I really thought this would be a great option for us. 

    Uppababy Vista with rumble seat
    Although it has various seat configurations, none provided the carry cot at the front (preferably facing towards me) with the toddler in a seat facing outwards, in a seat capable of reclining.

    If you want to read more about these pushchairs and other options, I can highly recommend this website


    What are the options if you don't want to buy another buggy?

    Many people manage perfectly happily without a double. Carrying your baby in a sling and keeping your toddler in the pushchair works for a lot of people. Buggy boards are also fantastic (although you will keep kicking the blummin' thing) and most toddlers love riding on them. Or a simple pair of reins on a toddler that loves to walk everywhere will keep them safe, and be less stressful for you.



    Double nap time - my favourite time of the day!
    So there you have it. This is the process that we went through when we decided whether we needed a double pushchair or not. You might conclude that we are hugely fussy, or just have money to burn (so far from the truth!) but I wanted to find a pushchair that would make my second child just as comfortable as my first.

    As I said, we ended up buying the  Bugaboo Donkey. A review of this is coming up shortly. I will also be sharing a few secrets and tricks about how you can buy one for well under the quite frankly, scary £1000 price tag.


    1. Thanks! Good post! my brother has the pram for his baby who is 6 weeks, i tested it out last week when i was looking after him and i really liked it. I didnt find any problem with the seat it sat upright when i tried it out (not with baby in it). You should go and try it out yourself and speak to a shop assistant mothercare sell it as do babies r us.

    2. Great post! I also had liked iCandy when we were shopping for a single, but one look at the seat size of their doubles and it was obvious Bobble would have to be squeezed in. Check out the best baby carriers for hiking reviews. Thanks!